Hello fellow outdoorsman and women. One of our times of the year is almost here, bow-hunting for white-tailed deer. Tree-stand safety needs to be at the top of our list as well.
Many of us will pursue this passion from an elevated position. And of the different options for hunting from an elevated position, tree-stands are probably the most popular. I know it is one of my favorites. Before we climb that tree and sit waiting for our game we need to make sure that we are being safe. Even though we love this sport, getting home safely is our #1 goal. To make sure we make it home to our loved ones in one piece we must follow a number of steps for tree-stand safety while hunting.
Choose the right tree
This seems so obvious, but strangely enough, it gets overlooked sometimes. Make sure the tree is not dead or dying. Looking at leaf production as well as dead or brittle branches are clues that you should avoid the tree. Also, make sure you are not be surrounded by dead trees. Dead trees can fall at any time for any reason and if you happen to be in your stand when one does it could be fatal. The proper diameter of the tree is important. Too skinny of a tree may not support your weight. Even if it did windy conditions could sway you out of your stand.
Use a safety harness and safety climbing line
Perhaps the best thing you can do to ensure tree-stand safety is to purchase a safety harness and safety climbing line. Please be sure to use both. The majority of accidents happen while climbing up and down to and from the tree-stand. That is why the safety climbing line is so important. If you were to slip and fall it is designed to cinch tight and keep you safe. The safety harness is used to attach to the safety climbing line while you move up and down the ladder. You also use the safety harness once you are in your tree-stand to secure you to the tree. Follow the directions that come with your safety harness and safety climbing line to properly set them up and ensure you maintain proper tree-stand safety. I will offer a bit of advice, make sure the safety harness is snugged-up tight to you. If it is not snug the sudden stop could allow you to fall out. Even if you do not fall out, the sudden stop will hurt you in certain areas you do not want to hurt. Hint, hint, look where the leg straps go!
Check your equipment
Inspect your stand for cracked welds, frayed straps, and loose nuts and bolts. Be thorough in your inspection because the time you take to look your tree-stand over will help keep you safe. A good habit to get into is to strap your tree-stand to a tree about 2 feet off the ground and climb onto it. This will allow you to test it at a safe level.
Use and inspect a proper device for climbing the tree to get to your tree-stand. There are several types of climbing sticks and steps on the market that can be used to safely climb the tree. I prefer to use a strap on climbing ladders. The climbing ladders keep the rungs out away from the tree allowing for better footing while climbing. Again check for cracked welds and frayed straps.
For proper tree-stand safety, you need to ensure your safety lines are in top notch condition. Check your safety harness and safety climbing line for frays and cuts. You also want to make sure of the weight each item is safety rated for. Test the Prusik knots to ensure they are working as they are supposed to. A quick tug on the knots is all you need to do for testing. I would test them while on the ground in case they fail. You also want to check your buckles for wearing, dry rot or breaks. Check the carabiner for bends and breaks while also ensuring that the latch mechanism works as it should.
Set up your equipment properly
Before you begin setting up your equipment, properly put on your safety harness. Now, attach your steps or ladders tight to the tree. If there is any access strap I usually tie it back to itself or to the step to keep it out of the way. Always attach the steps or ladders close together. You do not want to overextend your legs when climbing up or descending down the tree. This is the main cause of your feet slipping out from under you.
Once you get your steps or ladders up where you want your tree stand to go you will want to attach your safety climbing line to the tree.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once your safety climbing line is secured to the tree you will then want to attach your safety harness to the safety climbing line before attaching your tree-stand. This will keep you from falling in the event of hoisting up your tree-stand and getting it put into place.
When you get your tree-stand up to your desired spot attach it tight enough to hold it in place but loose enough to move it around to make sure it is straight. Once it is straight you can tighten it up to the tree. I always use 2 more ratchet straps to secure my tree-stand to the tree. I will attach one just below the seat and one at the bottom where the tree-stand connects to the tree. This not only keeps the tree-stand secure but also keeps it from rubbing and making noise. Once again I will tie off any excess strap to keep them out of the way.
Now that your tree-stand is secure you can then climb onto your stand. Once on the tree-stand, you will want to check that your safety climbing line is at a height that allows you to sit down comfortably without tugging up on your safety harness. On the same note, you do not want it too low on the tree. In the unfortunate event that you fall, a too low line will allow more momentum from you and that could cause you to hit a branch or the tree with enough force to cause a serious injury. Once you have that proper height attained you can then work on clearing any branches that you need to.
Tree-stand safety is completely your responsibility. Make sure you always wear your safety harness and use the safety climbing line when climbing up the tree and coming back down. You can say there is a one in a million chance that you will fall, but what if the last number was 999,999?
Get out there and hunt as much as you can and enjoy the great outdoors, just stay safe so you can keep doing it. See you in the tree-stand this fall.
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Have a great day and enjoy the outdoors,